A Rare Night Out

Day 239

IMG_0042My husband has been looking forward to going to the North Carolina Arboretum for their new ArborEvenings on Thursday evenings. After a long day staring at the computer screen, I was ready for a break.

Tonight they had music by a local duo, Liz and Elizabeth. We were looking forward to a night to just get away for a bit.

It was a warm evening, and the mosquitos were out in full force as were the gnats. The Japanese Iris in the collage below is covered with little tiny insects, too.

The Arboretum is a wonderful collection of gardens and trails just south of Asheville. During ArborEvenings, the gates are open until 9:00 pm and the gardens are lit. The last Thursday of every month they have live music.

We walked around the garden and then went up toward the education center where they had drinks and light food for purchase and of course music. We grabbed a BBQ sandwich and a bottle of water and just listened to music for a while.

Tonight’s event was sponsored by Asheville Beer Week (which I never knew existed). We bought bottled water to drink rather than opting for beer or wine since we were driving. I got a kick out of the marketing on the labels of the bottled water.

Liz and Elizabeth were really enjoyable. I liked their melodious harmonies and loved the violin and guitar together. I am attaching a clip from their YouTube channel, but I enjoyed their music so much more live. It was a nice eclectic mix of country, folk and their own brand of acoustic music. I even found some new music I had never heard before and that is always a plus.

All in all, it was a good night to get out for a bit. It was one of those nights we just needed a few minutes to just walk through the gardens, enjoy the flowers and listen to some music. Not a bad way to spend a late spring evening and something we need to do more often.




Foraging for Food

Day 184

Yesterday as I walked through our local Fresh Market grocery, I ran across a very familiar sight. There in the middle of the produce section was a plastic shrink-wrapped package of fiddlehead ferns with an accompanying placard explaining what they are.

When I lived in Maine and then in Alaska, we frequently foraged for fiddlehead ferns. They were cleaned, blanched and then frozen for consumption during the winter months. It was laborious especially if you gathered a large volume, but so delicious!

Seeing the fiddleheads reminded me of a place in Asheville, No Taste Like Home which offers foraging tours to learn about foraging for wild foods in this area. This is something I have wanted to do since we moved back here and this is the year!

It is a very cool concept. No Taste Like Home promotes itself as an ecotour company that specializes in foraging. Their tours vary in length and location with each including an appetizer whipped up with the findings of the day. There is also an option to take the items you foraged to one of four well-respected restaurants in Asheville where they will create a free appetizer using your provided ingredients. The dinner is on you and that’s as it should be!

I remember going into the woods with my grandfather as a young child. He taught me a lot about plants and he gathered many for health purposes. We were closely bonded through the experience and it has had a life-long impact on my respect for mother nature.

Growing up, we planted a garden, of course, but we also picked wild blackberries, raspberries, and strawberries. We also gathered the plentiful black walnuts for drying and eventual cracking for consumption — finger smashing work — and also chinquapins (a dwarf chestnut). Oh, how I loved chinquapins! There were also apples and grapes but most of those were no longer wild when I was growing up.

Thinking about my foraging roots brings back memories of my little blackberry bucket. We each had one — they resembled a beach sand pail. We had our own responsibility for filling our buckets but only after the blackberry patches had been checked for snakes.

April is upon us and it is almost time for ramps to be gathered, too. Another wonderful one of nature’s bounties. Their flavor is very similar to a strong garlic/onion combination. They are only here for a short while and, unfortunately, they have been over-harvested. This is why learning the proper way to forage is so important.

Last year I made ramp butter which is divine on top of a grilled steak. I also made some fantastic scrambled eggs with ramp leaves. I cannot wait!

Have I mentioned I love where I live?


A Much Needed Walk in the Woods

Day 120

What a gorgeous day! Our temperatures climbed into the mid-’60s. We decided it was time to take our daily walk a little north. We have a membership for the North Carolina Arboretum, so we decided to go to Asheville and get some fresh air.

We dressed in layers not knowing how the temperature would be. As we drove into the Arboretum we noticed the Blue Ridge Parkway was closed — most likely due to remaining snow and ice or downed trees. Ice was evident on the drive in. Temperatures were running about 5 degrees cooler than at home.

We stopped by the office and picked up a trail map, grabbed our hiking sticks and some water then headed out on a short three-mile hike. The trails are well maintained although a little muddy today from melting ice and snow.

Our walk was leisurely — not our usual push. It was nice to have the changing terrain and places to stop and take photos. The surroundings reflect a different beauty when the trees are bare. It’s amazing to think it is only 46 days until the first day of spring. Before we realize it, the buds will start to appear on the trees and my redbud trees and dogwood trees will start to escort spring in and winter out.

The trails we chose today were easy to moderate but so refreshing. We walked a good bit by the creek. The sound of the moving water takes me back to my youth. The trails are lined with rhododendron and there are lots of nice stops along the way should you need to rest. There was still plenty of evidence of ice alongside the edges of the water as you can see at the end of the following video.

We got a little dirty, but all in all, it was a really great afternoon to be outside and enjoying our little slice of heaven. The view coming off the trail was stunning. I loved the clouds allowing a peek of the sky over the distant mountain peak. This is the kind of view that allows me to breathe in deeply and relax.


All in all, it was a great day to be alive.


Winter Storm Warning

Day 64

What a difference a day makes. Yesterday was just beautiful and tonight we are preparing for a substantial winter storm. We are prepared for the possibility of snow, ice, and power outages according to the weather predictions — but I am putting the positive energy out there and am expecting to maintain power and WiFi.

No Stranger to Cold Weather

Photo from Winter 2016 to 2017

I have lived in Alaska and Maine, so I am familiar with winter weather. We normally do not get a lot of snow where we live, but they are predicting the possibility of 12-18 inches now so we will see. The predictions have changed daily, so we are waiting it out.

We have plenty of provisions. I am soaking some dried white beans so I can make either just some ‘soup beans’ or maybe a Pasta e Fagioli (a new recipe for me) so we shall see. Hubby is grilling some chicken breasts right now, so tonight we will have a nice grilled chicken salad and perhaps I will make some chicken salad with the leftovers.

In Alaska, it was not unusual to have temperatures below zero. Ice fogs were a common occurrence. Most houses had head bolt heaters (very few people had garages when I lived there) so they could plug their cars in at night increasing the chance the car would start the following morning.

In Maine, it was cold and snowy — lots of snow. I was not a fan of shoveling snow multiple times a day and scraping ice off my windshield. Thankfully being retired we do not have any requirements to go out in the elements.

The Weekend

So, the snow accumulation predictions continue to fluctuate. Our daughter just texted us to tell us Jim Cantore is coming to Asheville for the storm. Rut Roh Scooby! If you are a frequent viewer of The Weather Channel you know this means they expect the weather to be bad. Asheville is about 40 miles from here and the elevation changes quite a bit so who knows how much snow we will actually get.

The state of North Carolina has declared a state of emergency for the entire state so they must be expecting the storm to have some major impacts. No matter where you are in the path of the storm, stay safe.

“The snow doesn’t give a soft white damn whom it touches.”
E.E. Cummings

Blog, Home

A Lovely Day

Day 44

skylightToday was quite lovely. We had a leisurely morning just enjoying our morning coffee and some cereal. Today was forecast to be warmer which was a welcome change from the cool rainy weather we’ve been having.

I took a couple of photos of the view out of our skylights. The sun was gorgeous and you can still see some fall color from the trees that have not yet dropped their leaves. It is another time of transition which I love.

Lunch with Family

We arranged to meet our nieces and their daughter at a restaurant in Asheville. It seems like it has been way too long since we have seen them. We decided to eat at HomeGrown, a cute but small and strangely laid out restaurant that offered a brunch menu.

Luckily the day was gorgeous and we ate outside on their enclosed (and heated) patio. I had a wonderful farm salad with a spring mix of greens, sunflower seeds and grilled apples with a balsamic reduction. It was delicious. I was so thankful they offered a half-size although I got hungry later in the afternoon. Everyone else had breakfast fare and I think we all found something we liked.

Voorhees Family Art Show

IMG_7823We went by the annual Voorhees Family Art show after lunch. What a beautiful display of various types of art! Stunning silver jewelry, silver and ceramic jewelry, beautiful hand-thrown pottery, watercolors and oils, handmade books, stained glass and much more. Hubby bought a new coffee cup for himself and we purchased something else that I cannot share here until after the holidays!

The Afternoon

The rest of the afternoon was just relaxing, running errands and taking in the day. I did take the opportunity to check out the location of the Writers Group in Asheville. Looks to be in a private home and I’m not sure how I feel about the location. I’m glad I did not rush into a decision on that.

Then it was off to Whole Foods, Fresh Market and Publix then home. All in all an extremely nice day filled with family, good food, and gorgeous weather.

Sometimes, days like these are truly all you need.

“I cannot endure to waste anything so precious as
autumnal sunshine by staying in the house.”
Nathaniel Hawthorne